The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now

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Is this what your thinking looks like?

[Thanks for the Japanese vending machine, Woesinger!]

Words are thoughts.

The better we choose our words, the more we hone our thinking machine, and just like software, it’s a case of GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Thinking hard is pointless if we don’t use the right tools.

Think and speak with precision. Less is often more. Here are 10 common words I have observed to cause stress, depression, and conflict due to their vagueness. All of them are overused to the point of being meaningless. The solution? Stop using them and find more descriptive alternatives. I recommend focusing on removing one or two each week, even if just as an exercise.

In no particular order…

1. Happiness

2. Success

3. Should

4. Responsible

5. Realistic

6. Reasonable

7. Spiritual

8. Good/Right

9. Bad/Wrong

10. Moral

Do you love some of these? Most of us do. But… try and define them without using an equally vague synonym or a tautology.

But why do we love them?

Because they remove the heavy lifting of real thinking. These socially-accepted throwaway terms are crutches for unclear thinking, just like “thing”, “stuff”, or “interesting”–enemies of good writers worldwide. But the above 10 are much more dangerous, as they encourage us to compare, judge, or fool ourselves and others.

Trim the fat and cultivate your thinking with more creative and expressive word choice. As Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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232 Replies to “The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now”

  1. Hi Tim!

    I would also suggest to eliminate two more words:

    “trying”

    Eather it’s doing or not doing, “trying” is none of both. “Trying” is programming to loose in advance.

    “problem”

    I hate that word. “Problems” are a turn-off, whereas challanges are inviting. For sure a question of attitude.

    Bye bye 🙂

  2. Bloody correct, I always wanted to get rid of them, they are socially accepted, theres no way out of it, and they mean nothin except if you use them correctly (probably just sayin them inside)

  3. There are a lot of words I would appreciate to hear much more infrequently. However, I don’t think our top ten lists overlap much. 😉

    I do find myself frequently listening to people talk and hearing little real content. Maybe it’s the way I listen – I have a tendency to listen to meaning rather than words. I know that’s kind of a strange concept, but it works well for me. Often people will misspeak, and I won’t notice because I was following their meaning.

    Unfortunately, this tendency makes it painfully obvious when people have nothing to say, or have no idea what they’re talking about. I just don’t know how to respond!

    I’m definitely a fan of more precise language – it adds so much more nuance to a conversation.

  4. Right /wrong replace with enriching choices or poor choice

    society never looks deeper has a rule beyond right/ wrong.

    an enriching choice always is morally good and a poor choice is always morally wrong and as far as morals are concerned life challanges and choices can be summed up in these thoughts- Do your best to do all that you say you will and commit no tresspass and that thoght put into practice will eliminate all crime and all evil if you just act in goodwill at all times the rest is just mental hashing as far as I am concened-by the way love your book !

  5. Tm,

    I believe a lot of the bloggers here interpret the removal of a word as meaning removal of the word’s meaning. Happiness does not need to be removed from one’s life when one removes the word happiness from their vocabulary. It is obvious that many interpret this as what would happen. When I think about when/how I’d use hapiness in a particular sentence or comment I realize it would be used as a ‘wish for’ comment. One would not say ‘I have happiness’ that sounds corny. They would say ‘I am so happy’. You didn’t ask for everyone to remove happy…just happiness. If I use happiness, I’d say either ‘I’d acheive happiness if..’ or ‘you can have happiness’ .. Hmm… it doesn’t even flow well. Happiness is a sort of judgemental term. It is used to determine a result. You ‘can’ obtain happiness ‘if’.. Hmmm.. who can judge whether they will obtain this result before they even attempt? I suppose all this pondering one way or another is a serious loss of valuable time I could be using in more enjoyable pursuits.

    I think I can remove the word/term happiness easily, butI will continue to use happy all the time. 🙂

    Enjoy,

    Betty

  6. I liked your list, regarding the good/right bad/wrong inclusions here is my all time favourite Sufi saying:

    “Beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there”

  7. I can so relate to this one in my transcriptions. It’s hard for many people, including myself, to not say the words that Tim points out here. And one of the commentors commented on the word ‘like’ and ‘you know’ – so, so true. When I transcribe seminars and webinars I automatically take these out for my clients. What a difference it makes.

  8. you fogot ‘semantics.’ I really hate it when people say “we’re just arguing about semantics.” 9/10 times, they do not know what they are talking about.

  9. and I disagree with some of the words on the list. Why “should”? is it misused as much as “semantics”?

    Should is an aux verb implying logical consequence. “If I press this button, that light SHOULD go on.”

    It is often confused with OUGHT, which is a word that does NOT get used ENOUGH.

    Have I told anyone lately that I really hate the word “semantics”?

    And why “good/right”? There are times when “correct” might more precisely take the place of either. But to banish these words to a world where, say a word like “semantics” ought to be banished, I think is wrong.

    pawl

  10. I agree Tim, people tend to overuse words and catchphrases to the extreme.

    As an auctioneer I am always trying to come up with new phrases in my chant to keep my crowd attentive, this works until that phrase gets worn out and I’ll get rid of it to use another.

    As you can imagine this is a challenge when your selling 200 -300 lots an evening!

    Thanks!

  11. I found this definition one day:

    counter word

    n.

    any word freely used as a general term of approval or disapproval without reference to its more exact meaning, as nice, terrible, lousy, terrific

  12. To further enhance clarity of thought, exercise your brain, improve critical thinking and write more clearly, check out e-prime. Basically, you eliminate the verb “to be” and all of it’s constructs from your writing. Even if you just gain conscious of its abundant usage you in writing it can help you write more effective sentences.

    Google “e-prime” and stretch your brain.

    Best Regards,

    Bo

  13. Tim,

    I know this is a dated post, but I thought of something clever to get people going on this idea:

    If one uses the computer a lot for communication (e.g., chat or email frequently), if you download a program for Windows called Texter (Mac also has a freeware software that is similar in function), it is a program that sits in the background and replaces words as you type them on the screen.

    Rather than use the program properly to substitute words (such as just typing ‘ddate’ to make the date of the year appear in the place of ddate), you could have substitutions for these 10 words you’ve identified. And what better way to get into the habit of not using these words than to make Texter substitute the word ‘should’ or ‘right’ or ‘responsible’ with something like ‘abcdefg’ or ‘xxxxxxx’ or ‘tuvwxyz’. That will quickly prevent you from being able to type those words and force you to find a replacement. Then slowly you should be able to transfer that habit of not using those words into your spoken language.

    Just a suggestion if anybody is having problems with getting out of the habit of using these words.

  14. This is a marvelous website, and I hope this submission helps. There are far too many words and phrases that constitute tautologies, but I think the top 10 list you show could be a bit more generous.

    I have a list of words, phrases and verbal habits that should be BANISHED. It will make your skin crawl:

    1. Pause before saying either “million” or “billion”.

    2. “Anyway…”

    3. “Smoke-filled room(s)”

    4. “Disingenuous”

    5. Bell-weather

    6. Pronouncing divisive to rhyme with incisive. It is pronounced di-VIZ-iv.

    7. Surge

    8. “I mean…”

    9. “Okay”

    10. “Gonna”

    11. “C’mon…”

    12. Vet, vetting, vetted

    13. “Liberal media”

    14. Sea-change

    15. “Read(ing) tea leaves

    16. “Uh” or “duh”

    17. “So…”

    18. “[insert anything here]-wise”, such as “weather-wise”

    19. “It’s [the economy or any other word], stupid.”

    20. “At this point”

    21. “Rule of thumb”

    22. “That said” or “That being said”

    23. “Zero-sum game”

    24. “Begs the question”

    25. “You know…”

    26. “Proof is in the pudding”

    27. “With all due respect…”

    28. “Take a listen”

    29. To be honest/To tell you the truth

    30. Throw under the bus

    31. “Playing the [insert anything] card.”

    32. Smoking gun

    33. What next??

    And the BIGGIE that makes me want to vomit: “LOOK!”

    Thanks for letting me hog space. Think about these. People are almost exclusively speaking this way today.

  15. Choosing our words means we’re living and thinking consciously, not just rambling on automatic. I do find myself using “interesting” a lot. It means I find something worthy of my attention and will require more thought, but its a bad habit and trite in conversation.

    1. Happiness – a choice we make daily. Its not something to attain to.

    2. Success – usually thought of in monetary terms but I find its more about being true to yourself and following your passions to find real fulfillment (exactly what you say/do/teach, Tim!).

    3. Should – In a personal context its something we feel we must do based on some other expectations. Whose? I’ve eliminated this word from my vocabulary.

    4. Responsible 5. Realistic 6. Reasonable 7. Spiritual

    8. Good/Right 9. Bad/Wrong 10. Moral

    Words 4-10 are based in opinion and arbitrary. Using them means we are judging ourselves or others. To push our opinion is ego based and futile, but it does create a good discussion when done respectfully. 🙂

    Other words I’d like to add:

    can’t – Almost profanity in my house as a child. Its not that I can’t do something, I’m choosing not to try (better to use won’t)

    never- too harsh for me, it just sounds negative, “I’m never going there”

    hate – is learned and a choice, and an excuse to stay in our comfort zones

    trying – just an excuse, either do it or don’t

  16. The biggest vocabulary mistake to stop making is using can’t when you should be using won’t!!! Two entirely different words that when confused cripple your life.

  17. Words are subliminally powerful

    So really, generic approaches generate generic results

    Focus to get Focus results

    Thank You

  18. I agree, there needs to be a measure of moderation there. But, isn’t beautiful that we can even do this? Our ability to communicate and understand each other is so wonderful that we can say a multitude of things using the same word, but drawing from other information like context, mood, tone, history with that person etc. Think of how much can be embedded in the word ‘dude’. Dude! If we pursued the path eliminating over-used words too much, eventually we wouldn’t have a need to draw from the wells mentioned above and other fun intangibles.

    But while were playing with lists, ‘love’ needs to be on there. The same word that we use for a fierce and death-ignoring longing for another human is also used to describe how much we like Snickers. This calls for reform…

  19. Thanks to Paul and others who have have suggested replacement words. This list is not an attempt to perfectly replace but just a bit of commentary on what might be considered when trying to avoid oversued words and phrases.

    1. Happiness = liveliness
    2. Success = Completion or end
    3. Should = Ought
    4. Responsible = required
    5. Realistic = practical?
    6. Reasonable = thought out
    7. Spiritual = essence or inner
    8. Good/Right = correct/incorrect
    9. Bad/Wrong = ill conceived, poorly executed, of selfish design
    10. Moral = leave judgement at the door

  20. I’ve seen this word replacement concept before, but never with these words.

    Now that I see happiness and success among them, and their re-routing towards Excitement (as in your book) – it really reframes the whole idea of self improvement and how we set the targets for more satisfaction in life.

    Very good mental trick, flexibility is always good, and mental flexibility is truly golden.

  21. I absolutely despise the word “should”. When someone says that to me, it implies that what I am currently doing is wrong. Who made them the judge?

  22. Jules:

    Should may seem like a judgmental word, and we may use another word to replace it….but, we have to be careful not to be “oversensitive” to constructive criticism. That is how we can improve. I can’t tell you how many times, I did not do something right, or I missed the mark, and someone let me know that I did. There is a difference between giving someone the right information, and someone who is just plain harsh. If we go through life not having this constructive criticism, someone who had the courage to tell us when we are going in the wrong direction ,then you will have more people in jail, more people addicted to alcohol, and more people in bad situations that they got themselves in and who wish that someone had told them that what they were doing was not the right thing. I remember someone let me know that a “hard head, makes for a soft behind”…which means, if you are stubborn, then you will get your butt kicked bad…and you have a painful butt.

    It is amazing that many in our generation simply can not handle the truth about ourselves and the advice that can save us a lot of heat, a lot of embarrassment and a lot of trouble. But, if you want to survive in this world…you got to take it…you got to take the “you really should” before you get to the place where “you really screwed up…now you have to pay for it”. It is always best to learn from the mistakes of others, instead of learning after you made it yourself….because sometimes that mistake will create a ditch that is a hard thing to get out of.

    Christi

  23. I’ve lately become a student of Dialogue and so much is new, yet familiar….

    I’ve recently been led to the thataway site and happily found your blog there…

    Overuse of some words and phrases is problematic but I think expanding our vocabulary might be a wiser tack than shrinking it…..

    Cheers,

    Robert

  24. In Neurolinguist programming, there is a method to deal with such vague language. It’s called ‘metamodel of language’, and it basically consists of questions to see what words like ‘happiness’, ‘better’, ‘worse’, etc, really mean to the person who is using it.

    This was one of the most valuable tools I learned in NLP, it really changes the way you think and communicate with others. (Are you interested in NLP? I’m experimenting with it, but I think there’s too much of a hype going)

    I didn’t think about making an exercise to cut those especific words out of my vocabulary, tho. Good thinking!

    I’ll start today.

    Você tá certo quanto ao Rio e São Paulo. Não acho que sejam bons lugares pra turistas. Mas brasileiros costumam ser ufanistas, ainda mais quando comparados à Argentina!

    Abraço,

    Guilherme

  25. Tim, just stumbled over this one, fun list. Now I cant fight the temptation to have a little fun with it.

    1. Happiness-cheeseburger and a margarita someplace warm enough to wear flip flops and shorts

    2. Success-having automated well enough to be able to run your business while sitting there enjoying said cheeseburger.

    3. Should-this is usually used as a preface to something we dread doing, like oh term papers, and further contributes to our procrastination

    4. Responsible-usually used by the powers of evil to try to convince we’re on the “wrong path”, i.e. theirs

    5. Realistic-Another word used by the powers of evil to convince us we’re on the “wrong path” i.e. theirs

    6. Reasonable-Great for your use(primarily in negotiating, but don’t fall for it. Semi-quoting a great sage.

    7. Spiritual-The word of granola munchers and others unfamiliar with the use of a razor.

    8. Good/Right-Megan Fox in a bikini

    9. Bad/Wrong-Tim or Roseanne Barr in a bikini(for completely separate reasons obviously) 😉

    10. Moral-a word used by people insisting they are the respective “high ground”

    2 other words to add:

    chillin’

    chillaxin(wtf does this even mean?)

    ethical(pretty much on the same level as moral)

  26. Isn’t this whole idea self-contradicting? The title is “Ten most common words you SHOULD stop using”. SHOULD I? Really? I guess I really SHOULD work on that…..and the hundreds of other “SHOULDS” that we hear on a daily basis in this society. Isn’t SHOULD one of those things you should never say? Actually, SHOULD is the only one on the list which I agree with…… ironically.

  27. So I can agree that these words are vague and cause stress, but what are your suggestions to replace them, being more specific as you asked?

  28. Tim, great and timeless post.

    Eliminate the word “but” as well.

    It adds nothing. “And” works equally well. It has the added advantage of validating both sides. “But” negates all that came before it.

    I really like your blog, but you are doing it all wrong.

    I really like your blog, and you are doing it all wrong.

    (Even

    I really like your blog. You are doing it all wrong.

    is better)

    One definitely feels better than the other. It may make you listen. The other feels like “sandwich” feedback advice and disingenuous.

    Cheers!

  29. It’s an interesting concept. I see what you are saying, often times being able to express something in a sharp and detailed way means that you actually Know that thing.

    I think it also has to do with having a clear mind. The more you can understand concepts like good/bad, spiritual, happiness, success etc or the better you can express these concepts in a simpler and broader language, the better grasp you have on their meaning.

    It helps your mind to have a clear grasp on different concepts.

    I read this article and I’m thinking I’ve been quite lazy as well. Not knowingly but how much more engaging and clear-minded my mind would be if I started trying to understand these words that mean so many different thing to so many different people.

    It’s a unique thought you put up Tim. Thanks

  30. Tim won’t publish this, even though I’ve bought his books plus copies for my friends, which are many. I’ve been using the word “c*nt” for many years now with great success. It’s just got a nice ring to it. My friends, know I’m serious when I use this word, and their wives and girlfriends, take me seriously.

    Break out of the mould Tim, be a daredevil, and use the word. It worked for Tony Soprano, it can work for you.

    1. Tubby, The word you are looking for is Can’t, as in Can’t find a job, Can’t get laid, can’t function in society, can’t lose those stubborn last 200 lbs.

  31. Nice post. I agree for the most part (Especially regarding “happiness”, “good”, and “bad”.) Of course, I don’t think it’s *realistic* or that many people will be likely to adopt your ideas 🙂

  32. Also, your general argument about the ways in which language shapes our thinking would definitely be good material for future exploration/blogging. Perhaps you’ve already expanded on it in some other post…

  33. Computing and law use some of the words on this list as terms of art.

    For example, information technology gives specific meanings to “should”, “success”, and “responsible”. RFC 2119 documents best practice in using modal verbs, defining “SHOULD” as “there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.” I define “success” to mean reaching any endpoint in a well-defined procedure that is not a “failure” point. And a module of a computer program is “responsible” for the behaviors that other modules expect of it.

    In legal systems descended from the common law of England, “reasonable person” denotes a fictional character used to establish a standard of care in a negligence case, “succeed” (the verb form of “success”) means to establish a balance of probabilities in one’s favor, and “responsible” is roughly synonymous with liability in general. What words would you use instead for these concepts?

  34. I could not agree more. These words are vague and do not help us gain awareness into what we are feeling or sensing. I find the word “stress” to function in a similar way. People will use the word to define a range of emotions that are all quite different. And by using this word you are not able to really understand what you are feeling at all.

    I have a degree in comparative religion, meaning many people tell me about how they are spiritual, but not religious. What they MEAN is that they don’t go to church or are part of an organized religious institution. I’ve heard this dozens of times “Oh, I’m not religious, but I do pray, read religious texts, and generally try to be a good person – you know, I’m spiritual!” No, my dear friend, you are religious. 🙂 People mean well, though.

    In the same vein, I wish businesses would stop using “solutions”. Ugh. What a meaningless phrase. When you see that word used you can go ahead and assume the marketing department from that company doesn’t have the first clue about what they’re selling.

  35. The number 1 word I removed long ago was “Confidence”. No word has confused people seeking comfort in their being & world more than thinking there is a bundle of qualities that can have a single name attached to it.

    It has created empty cocky-ness and an over compensative lifestyle.

    – Experience is Confidence.

    – Remaining benign while acting upon challenges is Confidence.

    – Making the creative aspect of your sexuality universal is Confidence.

    confidence is Not Confidence – it’s BS.

  36. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my

    comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Anyways, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  37. I love this list, Tim. Great discussion on words we ‘should’ never use. Here are some words I have removed from my vocabulary and/or are pet peeves:

    1. No

    2. Not

    3. Don’t

    4. But

    5. Truthfully

    6. To tell you the truth…

    Thanks again for sharing and encouraging this lively discussion.

    Tandy

    1. Hello everyone. Just came across this site while searching for help in eliminating the phrase “you know” at the end of many of my sentences. I seem to use this phrase whenever I speak rapidly. I realize that I want immediate agreement from my listener or confirmation that they are still paying attention to me. Now that I am aware that I use this phrase frequently, it is extremely annoying to me. I have also noticed that I have family members who use this phrase frequently. Any suggestions as to how I can break this annoying habit? I am trying to speak more thoughtfully but sometimes when I become excited or upset about a subject I tend to repeat this phrase. Any suggestions?

  38. I think what’s more important is not eliminating these words, but understanding how these words are being used. These words are not in themselves meaningless, vague, or tautological, but are tools for a certain kind of understanding or interpretation.

    A lot of the words you listed I hate myself (except for spiritual), but I am very fascinated with how they are used to produce certain interpretations, and how other words can be used in very much the same way.

    Think, for example, of the role of your post: to provide us with a certain interpretation of a “responsible” way of using our speech. “Stop using them and find more descriptive alternatives.” We might as well put, “You should stop using them…” since it creates the same effect. And if it creates the same effect, then what’s the difference if I use the word or not?

    Eliminating words from our vocabulary is useless: words, in themselves, have no power. They are no more garbage than they are precious treasures. It’s how we UNDERSTAND the words that makes the difference. This is classic Wittgenstein all the way. Language is a game, constructed of games. Change the rules of the game (not the pieces of the game: chess can equally be played with dimes, pennies, quarters, rocks, instead of game pieces) and you change the game.

    Here’s what I would suggest: instead of eliminating the words, why don’t we analyze how they are being used. Analyze in which situations they are used, and for what purpose are they used. Ask yourself, “What rules govern the usage of these words?” Then ask yourself, “How can I change the rules?”

    Then I think we’ll be going somewhere.

    1. You bring up good points, and I appreciate your perspective. I do believe Tim has a valid point, though, that using these words tends to stop our brain from working. In the midst of conversation it is often not possible or inopportune to analyze how the words are being used. These words listed are pregnant with so many varying meanings and uses that it becomes a valuable exercise for one’s clarity and expressiveness of thought to practice ditching these words and opting for more colorful choices. Out of curiosity, what do YOU mean when you use the word “spiritual.” I use that word too often, and consider myself in the “spiritual but not religious camp.” By spiritual, I simply mean I am attuned to the value inherent in the immediate experience of the present moment despite the transitoriness of everything in life, especially my own inevitably death.

  39. Love this post, especially #3 – one of the most powerful changes I’ve made in my own thinking is to notice when I use the word “should.” I’ve nearly eliminated it in my speaking (and bristle when others use it in theirs), but the voice in my head says it more than I would like. Whenever I notice it, I am able to slow down and ask myself, “who is the author of the word ‘should’ here?” Because the author of that word is the person with the power — and because “should” is basically always used in service of shame and regret, I need to be most vigilant to make sure that distinctly destructive author is not *me.*

  40. Doesn’t that mean that you are going need to remove one of your most consistent questions in your pod-cast? “Who do you consider successful?” How will your rephrase it?

  41. So what words to change them give us an example

    Happiness to joy (or gay if you lived in the twenties )

    Success to achieve

    Etc

  42. I agree if this list is written in the same vein of the following line from Dead Poets Society.

    “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”

    But, what I don’t know from the post is if this specific list is an attempt to replace moral objectivism with moral relativism in our thought and language.

  43. The one that winds me up is “literally”, more often than not it is used in a figurative sense or bears absolutely no meaning in the context it is being used in. For example “They literally blew the roof off the building with that performance.” Or “Scott literally drove home home drunk last night”.

    I blame camera crews filming californians for reality TV shows. It’s used as a filler word in most cases to make the story more believable.

  44. Hey Tim.

    I actually really liked that article about the ten words to not use. When J have my great days, I simply do. It’s as if it’s a flawed thinking system. (for me at least)As Lao Tzu says” He who knows does not say, he who says does not know…I’m not here to discuss Taoist behaviors and call Confucius a critic.

    Now let’s get back to the show.I Believe that’s what you wanted us to comment on. Brian is the guy am thinking of the Aussie guy when you raise the cars yeah he really is cool . I find that to be a common thread with Australian people for some reason … Now regarding the show … I watched everyone I bought them on ITunes.

    I’m a very big fan of yours and I’ve it very deep thought and consideration so I really just want this to be as helpful as possible . From reading your material , One thing I found admirable about you was The relationship you had with feedback… Although you may be very scientific, you do look different kinds of issues and are very flexible with your attitude towards it .

    Now to the show… Some were really so much better than others. Brian was definitely A bonus because due to his easy-going nature and positive attitude and excitement… But by no means was he the person that made the show. It was the circumstances, The thrill, and The kind of challenge brain had to make. ( around a tight turn you were talking about how this high-speed it’s counterintuitive..etc on a trial run) now you could be saying to yourself well perhaps I’m the kind of person who simply like so that wild “arena” and it could be me saying that I’m a” Thrillseeker “….. Absolutely not!!!…. The band experience you had,( I believe your first episode wthe deadline). Was a very watered-down (please don’t take this insulting me) representation of what the TimFerris fans can’t wait to show all the friends. That was more like a ” Tony Robbins” don’t be afraid to face your fears and you wouldn’t imagine what you could do… Things will actually just work out blah blah blah… And I’m becoming very frustrated because I by no means mean to speak ill of Tony Robbins…. But your fan, and his fan have a different way of thinking, I have to go now. Understand that I use voice text and that I wish so badly I could’ve communicated this to you through a video message . But he gets redundant through words if you want any more feedback I’ll give you very specific examples . Literally difference makers… For example the one where you had to shoot par in golf.my friend was getting very bored and it’s not because he doesn’t like golf. Meanwhile on some of your better episodes, my friend said to me “yoo is the dude u keep talking about.”….had a very happy look on my face, and refrained from saying I told you so… I understand this is very sloppy message but I don’t really have the time to continue further if you’d give me the opportunity to send you a video message I think I would be able to communicate things much more strongly… Perhaps even have the iPad in my so I can much more effectively communicate higher quality feedback .

    Don’t worry I’m abscessed with you and want to marry U or anything I just really enjoy your books and think you’re a great guy…you definitely won me over, when Iread the story about your “outside of the box thinking” that earned you your Chinese kick boxing championship belt …lol. I did a really arrogant guy in the pool I playing defense in a similar fashion please think about ..Lo Lol.

    Please think about what I said have a great day, i’m a bit nervous for you to read this message because I’ve done the whole thing through voice text and by no means have any intention of being disrespectful but believe I can be very helpful.

  45. Yes, it makes perfect sense.

    Except “The map is not the territory.”: you can’t really escape some level of vagueness from language, because it’s a symbolic system, and this same vagueness is also a very useful feature. It can be a blessing or a curse. Can get you into trouble if you mistake the symbol for what it represents, which is also related to what some religions refer to as the “illusion of reality”.

    Read “The Structure of Magic” by Bandler, Grinder and Satir. It provides a framework (called the Metamodel) for cutting through the haziness of meaning in people’s communication (including your own). Can make you seem like a real asshole though if you overdo it, so be careful!

  46. Oh my gosh, I had such a laugh when I saw your post. The title is almost identical to a post of mine from December 31, 2015, Five Words to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary in 2016. Great minds think alike? Completely agree with you about the vagueness of the words you chose. Can we add “stupid” to your list? It is the fall back for, “I am going to condemn this, because I have no idea what it is, and my lack of self-confidence will not allow me to admit that.” Read mine, if you wish, hopefully, you will chuckle or shake your head, and your feedback is always welcome:

    5 Words to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary in 2016.

    “My work as a writer and editor causes me to read a sizable amount of content on a daily basis. Massive volume, really. News, social media, web content, curriculum, fiction. In the process of consuming such large amounts of information, there are words that surface frequently that are misused, overused, and generally misunderstood. It was quite a challenge limiting this list to just five items, which is why there are nine. Below is my suggestion, as the well-read, erudite, startlingly modest, word generator that I am, for elimination from the 2016 English lexicon.

    Hack–Life hack. Cooking hack. Parenting hack is the absolute worst. Hack traditionally means to cut something up rather savagely. Eviscerate it. It is a hostile word. Replace it with the word “skill,” “shortcut,” or even “trick.” And for goodness sake, quite chopping up perfectly good cupcakes.

    Pivot–used in business. “We decided to pivot,” means we screwed up, had no idea what we were doing and realized we better try something else. “Strategic pivot,” means we really blew a lot of money before we discovered we had made a huge mistake.

    Curate–No. Pulling something off the metal hangar in your closet does not mean that you are “curating” your wardrobe. Curate is being used to describe republishing somebody else’s content and not creating any of your own, This is not a skill or talent, unless you work in a museum.

    hbd–Oh my gosh, what an insult. If someone can’t take the nano-second required to type out Happy Birthday, then how sincere are they? Why have they even bothered? Not one of my friends has ever sent me an HBD, which out of context, sounds a lot like a disease.

    Bitch-Quit calling each other Bitch. It is not a compliment. It is vulgar. It does not reflect feminine solidarity. If we don’t respect each other, how can we expect pay equity?

    Foodie– Oh yippee, you have enough disposable income to eat out a lot and buy organic produce that you probably don’t know how to cook. You use knowledge of food trends as a social status. You spend more time photographing your food than eating it.

    Hashtag–actually speaking the word in a sentence – “Oh, I hashtag love it. Hashtag incredible. Hashtag, the cutest. In a society in which we reduce entire sentences to a few letters, adding meaningless, unnecessary syllables lacks all logic.

    Bandwidth–“Maggie, I know your department’s bandwidth is really stretched right now, but do you think you can help us out with this?” The true meaning of bandwidth is transmission capacity. It does not refer to human beings. People. And by “stretching my bandwidth,” I know you really mean that you would like the already overworked, underpaid humans to work even more overtime to meet your unreasonable deadline.

    American– What you really are trying to describe is a resident of the United States. It is self-centered, to constantly speak for Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica. North America is made up of 23 countries. South America is comprised of 12 countries. Central America, 7 countries. Politicians are especially guilty of this. Donald Trump’s ubiquitous trucker hat is emblazoned with “Make America Great Again.” If you really wanted to make America great, you probably wouldn’t build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, thereby dividing two American countries.

  47. Personally, I would LOVE to get rid of the word ‘hot’ when it comes to describing people. It’s lazy, reducing a person to a sex object, diminishing almost… And why is ‘sexy’ not enough? Let’s start using our imagination!

  48. Interesting list. I would like to see an explanation for why each word belongs in it however, and how it might best be replaced.

  49. I think this is totally unreasonable. What should we do instead? I would be much happier here if examples were included. It’s good to trim the fat but maybe wrong to go on some kind of syntactic fad diet. Success with regard word use is contextual. Interesting experiment though…

  50. I understand where you are coming from, and want to take this advice to heart in certain circumstances. At the same time, using and thinking about these words, and trying to define them or place them in the right context stokes my creativity and imagination. They should not be ‘throw away’ words that are used at the drop of a hat. But there are mystical things beyond my scope that sometimes I need to generalize using one of these terms so that I can start to fumble and grasp it.

    Thank you for pointing this out though. It does make me realize that these words might belong within meditation, prayer, and contemplation rather than writing and communication with others.

  51. I agree with ‘should’. It is the word I hate the most in the English language. What word do you most often hear before you hear the word ‘should’? I or you are the common responses. The response is about 50%/50%. I should or you should. In either case, I think of both responses as a condemnation. I am condemning myself because I should have and didn’t. Or someone is condemning me because they think I should have done what they thought. What is done is finished and what is before is unknown. I can only live now and here.

  52. Tim,

    As I read your blog post, I began confusing your book with one I am reading alongside it. As the two book themes merged, during my reading of your post, I began to see the parallels between these overused words, paradigms, and problem solving.

    I love the intent of substituting words that are more specific because they cause us to think more clearly and to be more purposeful when we approach others and dialogue with them.

    The hard part will be to be more specific in religious discussions, as I am very religious and it is so easy to use wrong/right or good/ bad in those discussions.

    I’m halfway through 4-Hour Workweek and it’s already helped me reframe my thinking. It’s the little things that count. Thanks.

  53. ah the ‘ol stoic bias, that we are all emotionless robots, for these words have to do with a feeling. a feeling of happiness, wright or wrong, do you feel successful? these words should be okay in our vocabulary, as long as they emerge from growth. “I do not regard a man as poor, if the little which remains is enough for him.” – seneca. add “poor” to this list?

  54. A lot of these are pretty useless to worry over, but some are only vague because you haven’t found good answers yet. Eg right/wrong, good/bad, moral. There are real objective meanings to these, but most people prescribe to moral relativism and subjectivism and pretend that there are no right answers – so using them with these people confuses them.

  55. Isn’t saying that these words should be avoided also just a form of removing heavy lifting.

    We do the same with art.

    People don’t actually draw a tree or an eye, they draw an icon that they learned when they were in 2nd grade and never evolved from it. People don’t suck at drawing per se, they just never learned to actually see. Perhaps the lesson here is to learn to use those words in a thought out and meaningful way.

    Otherwise by avoiding these words because you say so, they will form a grammatical construct based on your heavy lifting and thus never evolve past grammatical icons of trees.